What kid doesn’t like to dig in the dirt? My grandkids love to help plant flowers and work in the garden. They especially enjoy watering, the garden and each other! It’s also a great way to introduce more vegetables into their diet. Caring for plants and growing their own food will really give kids a sense of accomplishment. They are much more likely to try veggies if they grow and pick them themselves. Have them weed and water and watch the growing process with them. Explain how each blossom they see will grow into a delicious vegetable.
Try a few sweet veggies. Sugar snap peas are delicious, raw or sautéed. The plants are easy to grow and produce early. They are easy to pick with little hands, so harvest often to produce more. Grape tomatoes are another super sweet, kid-friendly vegetable. The plants grow more compactly than most tomatoes and are also easy to pick. Carrots are a kid favorite but are not the easiest to grow, unless you have very good, loose soil. Choose a short, quick-growing sweet variety. Introduce kids to fresh lettuce! This is another quick, easy growing vegetable that many kids will like. Lettuce when picked young is sweet and tender and will appeal to many kids. Try a little ranch dressing and use it like a dip. Green beans are another quick grower and easy picker.
Even if you only have a balcony, you can grow vegetables in containers. One medium pot will fit two tomatoes, peas and green beans. Both the beans and the peas can be vine varieties that will grow down the sides. Plant leaf lettuces and spinach in between them. Many garden centers offer ready planted containers. While this is convenient, I’d prefer to do my own. It’s probably not cheaper but you can choose your own varieties.
If it’s too difficult or not plausible for you to garden at home, you can introduce the kids to a community garden. Most communities in the US have one or more community gardens. Many will share the bounty for a commitment to work. Google community gardens to find the gardens in your community. There are even pointers on starting your own community garden! If the only thing you can manage is taking the kids to a farmer’s market, that’s great too. They can meet the farmers and choose their own veggies and fruits to take home and prepare. One of the main benefits to growing your own food is that it is guaranteed organic. In my home, we are trying to eat organic whenever feasible. Let’s all try to give the next generation the pleasure and health benefits of growing their own food.
KATHY WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO